Diabetes and Vitamin A, D, E and K: Can Fat Soluble Vitamins Fight Diabetes?

by Cindy

Fat Soluble Vitamins And Diabetes

Many diabetic patients are interested in reducing blood sugar levels using natural methods such as diet, exercise and natural herbs for diabetes. There are many natural supplements that are being studied for their role in glucose metabolism within the body. Fat soluble vitamins have been carefully studied for their role as a therapeutic agent in diabetic patients.

What Are Fat Soluble Vitamins?

Vitamins are natural substances that are found in food sources and are required by the body for the normal function of the human body. Vitamins are divided into two categories: water soluble and fat soluble.

  • Water soluble vitamins are those that dissolve in water and these vitamins are vitamin C and the B vitamins.
  • Fat soluble vitamins are dissolved in fats and can be stored by the body for longer periods of time than water soluble vitamins. There are four fat soluble vitamins: vitamin A, D, E and K. 

Fat Soluble Vitamin A Facts

Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is a fat soluble vitamin that plays a role in skin, tooth and bone health.  It is also important for good night vision. Vitamin A is also a power anti-oxidant and can help remove dangerous, cancer causing molecules from the body.  Natural sources of vitamin A include:

  • Dairy Products
  • Liver
  • Eggs
  • Orange Vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and squash
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe

Vitamin A deficiency is relatively rare but when it does occur patients will experience dry skin, poor vision, difficulty seeing at night, intestinal upset and diarrhea.  Vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness in children.

It is more common for patients to experience vitamin A toxicity because this fat soluble vitamin can be stored in the liver and overconsumption of supplements can result in toxic levels of vitamin A.

Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include:

  • Nausea
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Hair Loss
  • Growth Restriction
  • Liver and Spleen Enlargement
  • Bone Pain
  • Skin Changes

Vitamin A and Diabetes

At this time, there is relatively little research of the effects of vitamin A on type 2 diabetes.  Vitamin A is more widely used to promote healthy skin and in the treatment of skin disorders like acne. Patients with diabetes should make an effort to eat a well balanced diet to obtain the proper amounts of vitamin A.  Excessive amounts of vitamin A can be toxic and should be avoided.

Fat Soluble Vitamin D Facts

Vitamin D is another fat soluble vitamin that has been closely studied for its role in numerous processes within the body.  Vitamin D is best known for its role in the regulation of bone health through maintaining the balance of calcium and phosphorus. It is recommended that adults receive at least 400 IU of vitamin D every day to keep the body healthy.  Natural sources of vitamin D include:

  • Fortified Dairy Products
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Exposure to Sunlight

Vitamin D deficiency can result in severe health problems such as osteoporosis and rickets. 

Vitamin D and Diabetes

In addition, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many other health problems such as cancer, diabetes and depression.  Click here to learn more about how vitamin D and diabetes are related.

Fat Soluble Vitamin E Facts

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that is known for its anti-oxidant properties.  In addition, vitamin E plays a role in keeping the body’s cells healthy and in the use of fatty acids.  Vitamin E is present in a large variety of food sources, such as:

  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Whole Grain Foods

Past research has suggested that vitamin E may help prevent heart disease and cancer but more recent studies do not support this claim. Vitamin E deficiency and toxicity are both quite rare. 

Vitamin E and Diabetes

Likely vitamin A, few studies have been conducted to examine the relationship between this important fat soluble vitamin and diabetes.  Vitamin E is relatively easy to obtain through the diet.  Patients with diabetes can obtain adequate amounts of this vitamin through a healthy diet.

Fat Soluble Vitamin K Facts

Vitamin K is the fourth fat soluble vitamin.  It is well known for its role in blood clotting and bone production. Natural sources of fat soluble vitamin K are:

  • Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Broccoli
  • Certain Oils such as soybean, canola and olive oil
  • Liver

Vitamin K deficiency can be life threatening because patients may experience uncontrolled hemorrhage due to an inability for the blood to clot.

Vitamin K and Diabetes

Vitamin K has not been widely studied for use in diabetic patients.  There are a few isolated studies that examine the risk of fracture in diabetic patients who are vitamin K deficient.  Vitamin K is being more aggressively studied for use in treating osteoporosis and because there appears to be a link between hip fractures and low vitamin K levels.   As more studies are conducted it is possible that vitamin K may eventually be used for diabetic patients who have bone loss and are at risk for fractures.  Vitamin K can be obtained very easily through the diet and patients who are on certain blood thinners should never change their vitamin K intake without consulting their physician.

Fat soluble vitamins are an important part of regulating overall health.  The use of supplemental fat soluble vitamins for diabetes has not been widely studied, with the exception of vitamin D. Vitamin D appears to be linked to many chronic health conditions, including diabetes.  At this time there is no evidence to suggest the supplementation of any other fat soluble vitamins for diabetic patients.  For more information about vitamin D deficiency and diabetes, read our article Diabetes, Vitamin D Deficiency and Depression!

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